The July sun was hot that evening when I got Mom’s phone message. I hesitated before informing the boys: “Today is Slurpee Day. You can get a free Slurpee at 7-11.”
Although they had already been horseback riding and spent hours at the lake with friends, the boys clamored to try this American treat.
Thus it was that after supper on the hottest day yet of summer we set out on a mile long walk to 7-11. In spite of the heat, it was fun to be walking down the sidewalk together. Almost every day in Russia we walked somewhere together—it’s the way to get places. For a few minutes, just walking made everything seem better. Then I began to tell stories. The boys can always walk if there is a story to listen to. The sweltering heat didn’t seem so bad anymore, either.
At 7-11 there was a sticky trail across the floor to the Slurpee machine. Special cups for the free Slurpees were on the counter. The boys were astounded that they could simply help themselves and there was no guard watching. Each had to ponder a moment over the multiple flavor selection. Eric decided to mix his. Darin and Ryan each chose a single color. When I picked up a cup to have a Slurpee, too, they all laughed. Each proclaimed that he would be the one to finish if Mommy didn’t want it all.
With our shoes squeaking against the sugary floor, we wished the clerk a “Happy Slurpee Day!” and headed back to the sidewalk. “Let me taste yours,” was the main flow of conversation for a while. Then the boys began to finish theirs. “Are you sure you want all of that, Mommy?” I did.
As we turned into our tree covered road, Ryan stuck out his tongue. “What color is it?” Indeed, it was electric blue. He raced home so Daddy could take a picture before it faded.
At home, the boys sprawled contentedly in the living room. A cooler breeze of evening was beginning to come in the windows. “What a tasty part of American culture,” one of them commented. “In America Slurpees are free one day of the year.”
Another funny culture moment: one evening a teenager came to our door with a fund raiser for his church. He was selling candy. Alan bought some thin mints from him.
The boys watched through the window as the youth walked back down our drive. “Wow,” one of them said. “A teenage boy with dread locks came to our house selling girl scout cookies. America sure is strange.” (The thin mints were not girl scout cookies, but the boys were yet unfamiliar with anything else by that name.)